It can be really difficult to get everything you need to do done when you have IBS or another chronic illness, mostly because you cannot foresee and therefore plan for flare ups or issues. This advice will be mostly tailored towards those who are students or who work from home, purely because of my own situation.
For some background context about the person writing this, I am a 22 year old postgraduate student with a job and a few responsibilities that also take up my time. I have Coeliac and IBS. Currently, I work 3-4 days a week and am studying for my Master’s degree. I also run this blog and have a horse who needs daily attention. Hopefully some of this advice will be useful to you and your situation!
For other Advice posts with IBS related topics see here.
- Be as productive as possible on good days. If you wake up and feel well then make sure you get as much done as possible on that day. It can be really distracting trying to work if you aren’t feeling great, and often impossible if you are having a full blown flare up, so make the most of the times when you feel well enough to work.
- Remove your procrastinator’s mindset! Nothing will effect your time management more than procrastination – we are all guilty of putting things off until later. As soon as motivation strikes you, do the work then and there, otherwise you may end up putting it off and having to work during a flare up.
- Schedule time for relaxation. This is important for every single person who works but it’s particularly important for those of us with IBS as our symptoms are often exacerbated by stress. Ensure you place a bath, walk in the local park or TV session into your schedule and stick to it, even if you feel you haven’t been that productive. This will stop you drowning in stress and being unable to work later, or even worse, causing yourself to have a flare up.
- Keep working during a flare up if you can. I know how difficult it is, but telling yourself you can’t do your work because of a flare up won’t help you in the long run. Depending on your condition you could have a flare up every other day and never get any work done. Try to set yourself jobs on flare up days that aren’t too tasking – i.e things that need doing but might only take half an hour. That way you will still feel you are making ground on your bad days even if you’re unable to do the big tasks that you will be able to complete on a good day.
- Find a support network of people in a similar situation to help you get motivated. I have friends and course mates with similar struggles and so we support each other on bad days.
- Ensure your boss/teachers are aware of your conditions. Whilst we all have to work and study during flare ups, it’s useful to let them know just in case it’s going to affect your ability. Most are sympathetic and it will be easier to request extra time at university if your teachers are already aware of the situation.
- Try to schedule your work around triggers. For example, if you know that your IBS will become worse after eating/on an empty stomach schedule big tasks around your meal times.
- Prioritise sleep! If you’re having a flare up and you’re tired you’re even less likely to work well! Making sure you prioritise 8 hours + of sleep will also keep you calm and prevent IBS flare ups.
How do you handle your busy schedule and IBS? Do you have other chronic illnesses that affect your work or study?
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